Why Can I See My Breath in Cold Weather?

 

It’s a chilly fall morning as you head outside to grab the mail, but wait… you can see your breath! That’s how you know winter is right around the corner and cold weather is coming. Have you ever wondered why you can see your breath in these chilly temperatures? It’s a simple answer: water.

While many attribute the visible breath solely to falling temperatures, the amount of moisture in the atmosphere is just as important. The perfect combination of temperature and humidity is actually the cause of the age-old phenomenon.

The Science Behind It All


The human body is made up of nearly 70 percent water, which causes the air in our lungs to be almost completely saturated in water vapor, which is water in its gas form. This water vapor is the same temperature as our bodies, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air, which is often why cold winter days feel so dry and hot summer days are thick with humidity

When you exhale a breath filled with the warm air from your lungs, it enters the cold atmosphere of a winter day. The cold air immediately lowers the temperature of our breath and briefly reaches a dew point. A dew point is the exact temperature the air needs to be at to achieve humidity.

 

Air cannot hold water vapor at dew point, causing the gas to turn to liquid form, or water vapor to water. This is the process of condensation and what makes up that little foggy cloud we see in the cold. The transformation of gas to liquid creates miniscule water droplets visible to the human eye.

This is a great way to visualize exactly how far things travel when you’re simply breathing and speaking. These tiny water molecules in your breath spread just as easily in every type of weather. All the more reason to wear a mask to prevent spreading germs!

Just How Cold Does it Have to Be?

There is no exact temperature in which condensation is guaranteed to occur. As we know, the relative humidity in the air is a contributing environmental factor that goes into the equation of visible breath. However, when the temperature falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see your breath.

 

 

 

Now the next time you see your breath on a cold day, you’ll know you’re seeing the process of condensation in action.

Share This Post:

5 Keys to a Safe, Stress-Free Bath

Nothing quite beats a relaxing bath to unwind after a long day. But before hopping in the tub, remember to put safety first. There are potential hazards that could arise during bath time such as slipping, falling, or even drowning.

January is nationally recognized as Bath Safety Month, so there is no better time to read up on our complied tips for keeping your time in the tub relaxing and safe. 

Keep an Eye on the Kids

Obviously, small children should never be left alone or unsupervised while in the tub. Kids aged four and under are at the greatest risk for bath-related accidents and should remain under guardian supervision at all times. Ideally, children should bathe with some degree of adult supervision until they have reached at least seven or eight years of age.  

Rinse Away Those Suds

A sudsy bathtub floor is the perfect surface for slipping. To prevent an unpleasant and dangerous fall in the bath, rinse away as much foam, bubbles and sudsy bath residue as you can before standing up and exiting the tub. If the floor remains slick, proceed with extreme caution and consider installing a handrail to make bath time safer.

Traction Prevents Tripping

One effective strategy for preventing a sudsy slip is to invest in a traction pad or adhesive for the tub floor. These affordable, easily accessible items reduce the risk of falling by creating friction for the feet and prevent the potential of leaving behind a slick surface. Implementation of bathtub traction pads is beneficial to bath-goers of all ages, since everyone from toddlers to senior citizens can potentially suffer from a fall. 

Soothing, NOT Scalding

Hot baths are lovely, but it’s important to remember baths are intended to be soothingnot scalding! When filling up the tub for a bath, make sure to check the water temperature several times before climbing in. If it is too warm for comfort, run a bit of cold water, and then check the temperature of the bath again before you enter.

This advice is particularly important when preparing a bath for small children, since they are more likely to jump right into a hot bath without considering the temperature. Additionally, children do not have the same capabilities as adults when it comes to handling extreme temperatures. Bath water that’s just hot enough for you might be too warm for a little one, so use extra caution when preparing a child’s tub. 

Steer Clear of Sharp Edges

It’s easy to forget that sharp edges can act as a bath safety hazard. Bathtub faucets, drains and showerheads could pose a risk of cuts or scrapes, and become dangerous when accompanied by a slip or fall.

To reduce the potential of a scrape, use rubber faucet and drain covers and hide any sharp edges with a towel or soft material. If you have young children, steer clear of any bath toys that have harsh edges or are made of hard plastic—nobody wants to land on those in the event of a stumble.

The next time the January cold gets to you, we hope you’ll keep these precautions in mind before indulging in a warm, relaxing bath. Don’t forget your rubber ducky! 

Share This Post: